We’ve all seen the car stickers, and hopefully most of us now understand that a dog is indeed for life – not just for those first few giddy days when he bounds into your kitchen and does his business on the floor. But if you or one of your family has a hankering for a new puppy, there are many things you should consider before you commit to taking one on.
So what do you need to know before you open up your house to a furry member of the family?
Is a dog right for us?
Firstly, it makes sense to have a bit of a family summit. Of course everyone likes the idea of a cute puppy. But now is probably the time to discuss the responsibilities that will accompany your new pet, especially as a dog’s average life span is 12 years.
While the initial cost may be the most significant one-off payment you make, caring for a dog is a long-term commitment. Costs such as food, vet’s bills, or paying for their care if you go abroad can mount up – though you can help to protect your dog with pet insurance. Nevertheless, The Kennel Club says that as a rough estimate, a dog can cost £25 each week.
In addition, caring for a dog is a significant commitment. You need to be prepared to give them opportunities for exercise every day, and remember that they may not like being left home alone if you are out at work. Also, while you may want to add to your family, ask yourself if there’s enough space for a dog at home. If you don’t think that you can provide for all of these needs, then it may be time to consider a different pet with fewer requirements.
Rescue remedy? Choosing the right dog
After you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of owning a dog – and accepted the responsibilities – you need to think about where you will find your pet. There are two main decisions here; do you buy a puppy from a breeder, or do you look to rehome an animal from a charity like the RSPCA. Charities highlight the rewarding experience of giving an adult dog a new lease of life by providing it with a new home, but they also provide information to those who are intent on a pup.
According to the Dogs Trust, unless a breeder can provide puppy paperwork, showing that the animal’s parents were free from hereditary diseases, then it may be best to go elsewhere. It also makes sense to check that the animal has a vaccination certificate, a vet’s health check report and a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate. It warns buyers not to take an obviously unwell puppy home – but instead to arrange another day to inspect it.
Another popular option is to visit a rehoming charity, which offers stray or abandoned dogs a chance to find a new family. And it’s even more important to consider what sort of dog will suit you and your family when choosing a rescue dog. For example, how energetic is your home life – are you able to cope with a big dog that needs lots of exercise? Have you or your family looked after dogs before? If not, then an animal with a strong will may not be ideal. Do you already have other pets – and how are they likely to react? Is the dog you are rehoming good with children if you have a young family – or often receive young visitors?
These are the questions that charity staff will help you to answer. You will need to fill out an application form and may need to make several visits to a centre before a home visit from staff to make sure they’ve helped to make the correct match. If all’s well, then it will soon be time to take your newest family member home.
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance
Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.
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